Sample Agreements
Artist and Gallery Agency Agreement

This sample agreement outlines what is needed when an Artist wishes to enter into a long term relationship with a Gallery where the Gallery acts as an agent.

Artwork Consignment for Sale Agreement

This sample agreement governs the relationship between an artist and a gallery when the artist allows the gallery to exhibit and sell works for a set period.

Auspice Agreement

This sample agreement should be used by a group of individuals who are not incorporated and want to apply for funding from a funding body that will only fund incorporated organisations (like co-operatives, incorporated associations, companies or companies limited by guarantee).

Band Partnership Deed

This sample agreement outlines the formalisation of a pre-existing band or performers wishing to join together to form a band.

Band Partnership Letter agreement

This sample Band Partnership Letter Agreement should be used when members of a band want to record how their band will operate as between the various members.

This sample agreement includes the most common terms which the parties need to consider and agree to.

Collaboration Agreement: Visiting Artist (Artists in the Black)

This sample Collaboration Agreement –Visiting Artist should be used when an Indigenous community art centre invites an external non-Indigenous artist to the arts centre to work collaboratively with the art centre’s artists (Local artists) to create a body of work. 

Collaboration Agreement: Volunteer Agreement (Artists in the Black)

Volunteers play an important role in nearly every collaborative art project whether making films, organising festivals or putting on a major exhibition. A written agreement is important to ensure the volunteer understands his or her responsibilities and the policies and protocols that must be respected.

Contractor Performers Agreement

This sample agreement should be used when a performer is being contracted by someone else to perform in a production. If the performer is being engaged as an employee rather than a contractor, Arts Law's Employment Agreement for Performers is more appropriate.

Copyright Licence for Collecting Institutions

This sample Copyright Licence for Collecting Institutions agreement should be used when a museum or other institution holding a collection of artefacts or artworks, including cinematographic or multimedia works or works of artistic craftsmanship or other copyright materials, wishes to make and publish a digital copy of a work for the purpose of facilitating public access to its collection.

Copyright Licensing Agreement

This sample Copyright Licensing Agreement should be used when a person who owns the copyright in creative content wishes to give permission to another person to use their content (whether a visual artwork, text, music, film or other content) in a particular way.

Creative Hub Participation Letter and Participation Agreement

The administering body of a Creative Hub in NSW can use this sample agreement to sub-licence space in a Creative Hub to an artistic pop-up project. It gives the individual or business a short term right to occupy space in the Creative Hub. 

Debt recovery - Letter of Demand

If you are owed money and it hasn't been paid, the first step is to send a letter of demand. This is a template which you can adapt.

Direct Licensing Guidelines (Public Performance and Transmission Rights)

These sample guidelines have been developed to assist small record companies and independent artists that are Phonographic Performance Company of Australia (PPCA) licensors to meet the requirement that they have direct licensing guidelines (policies). The guidelines deal only with direct licensing of public performance and transmission rights in a sound recording or music video. For more information on PPCA's requirement in relation to direct licensing guideline see Arts Law’s information sheet on Direct licensing guidelines: sound recording

Employment Agreement for Performers

When a performer is employed on a full-time or part-time basis to perform in a dramatic or theatrical production, this sample Employment Agreement can be used.

Film Cast & Crew Agreement (with deferred fees)

This sample CAST & CREW AGREEMENT (WITH DEFERRED FEES) should be used when a producer (Producer) is engaging cast or crew members (Contractor), as independent contractors rather than employees, for the production of a very low (or no) budget film or video. It is for the situation where the producer has no means of paying cast and crew prior to a commercial release and where it is possible that there may not be a commercial release opportunity in the foreseeable future.

This sample agreement includes the most common terms which the Producer and the Contractor need to consider and agree.

This agreement can also be purchased as part of the Film/Video Sample Agreements Pack – Option B (No Budget) for a discounted price.

Film Cast Agreement (without deferred fees)

This sample Cast Agreement (without deferred fees) should be used when a producer who is not a member of Screen Producers Australia (SPA) is engaging cast members for the production of a low budget film or video.This sample Cast Agreement (without deferred fees) should be used when a producer who is not a member of Screen Producers Australia (SPA) is engaging cast members for the production of a low budget film or video.

Film Loan Agreement

This sample Film Loan Agreement letter should be used on a very low budget or no budget film when the film maker or film makers wants to borrow a small amount of money from a private individual (not a bank or government agency or funding body). The loan is not due for repayment until the film earns revenue and it is intended to be interest free until a specified repayment date.

Film Location Deed of Release (no payment)

Use this when a film producer wants to shoot a film (including a video) on private property. If a producer fails to obtain a Location Release, the producer could be liable in trespass or for doing other things for which there are legal consequences. If shooting on public properties see our info sheet Filming in Public Places.

Film Location Deed of Release (with payment)

Use this when a film producer wants to shoot a film (including a video) on private property. If a producer fails to obtain a Location Release, the producer could be liable in trespass or for doing other things for which there are legal consequences. If shooting on public properties see our info sheet Filming in Public Places.

Film/Video Partnership Deed

This outlines what needs to be considered, both creatively and financially, when a partnership is formed to collaborate on a specific film or video project, and the parties agree to share all expenses, profits and losses associated with the film. Partners could be co-producers, or the producer and, for example, director or writer.

Game Development Services Agreement

This agreement should be used when a game developer or game development company is developing an interactive media project (Game) and wants to engage a third party contractor, such as an animator, programmmer or graphic artist.

Game Loan Agreement

This sample Game Loan Agreement should be used when a game developer or game developers want to borrow money from a private individual (not a bank, government agency or funding body) to finance the development of a game or app. The loan is unsecured and interest free until the stated ‘repayment date’. It attracts interest if not repaid on that date. The developer must repay the loan out of the revenue earned by the Game in priority to paying the development team.

General Copyright Licensing Agreement for Podcast

An agreement for using artwork, photographs, dramatic works or literary works in a podcast or in advertising and promotional material associated with the podcast.An agreement for using artwork, photographs, dramatic works or literary works in a podcast or in advertising and promotional material associated with the podcast.

Image Reproduction Licence for a Publication

This sample agreement is for use when a visual artist agrees to licence an existing visual image (such as a painting, a print, a drawing, a photograph or a still multimedia image) for multiple reproduction in a print or online publication.

Indigenous Artwork Reproduction License for Fabric (Artists in the Black)

This sample INDIGENOUS ARTWORK REPRODUCTION LICENCE (FABRIC) should be used when an artist who owns all rights and interests including copyright in an artwork (the Artwork) wants to grant a licensee an exclusive licence to reproduce the artwork in connection with the manufacture, importation, distribution, promotion, advertising and sale of printed fabric (the Fabric). The licence includes the right to adapt the Artwork into designs that can be printed as a repeating pattern onto Fabric under certain conditions (the Designs).

Indigenous Collaboration Agreement – Fashion and Furnishings (Artists in the Black)

This sample INDIGENOUS COLLABORATION AGREEMENT should be used when a designer in the fashion, textile or home furnishing industry, or a business that is involved in the production of articles for the fashion and furnishing industries  (the Designer) wishes to work together with an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Island visual artist/ or group of visual artists (the Artist) to create and produce clothing, textiles and/or furnishing items based on or incorporating or inspired by the artworks of that artist or artists.

Interviewee’s Release (With Payment)

This sample Interviewee's Release (With payment) should be used when an interviewer or producer wishes to film or record interviews with another person whether for use in a research project, museum exhibition, film or radio project, or any other purpose.    

Lease of Artwork with Option to Purchase

This sample Lease of Artwork with Option to Purchase should be used when an artist agrees to lease any of his/her work to a person or an organisation for exhibition at that person’s or organisation's premises.

Loan of Artwork for Public Exhibition

This sample agreement between artist and public exhibition space should be used where an artist agrees to lend his/her work to the organiser of an exhibition.

Music Commission Agreement for Games

This sample Music Commission Agreement for Games should be used when a game developer wants a composer, musician or band either to create original music for use in the developer’s game or to adapt existing music into a new composition or arrangement.

Music Commission for Film

This sample agreement covers the fundamentals of how a producer commissions a screen composer to create an original score for a film or video.

Music Compilation Licence for Community Projects

This sample agreement outlines the arrangement between a community or a non-profit organisation and an unsigned artist in which the artist records songs for the first time for inclusion on a compilation album.

Music Licence for Film

This sample agreement is used when a producer wants to synchronise existing music and an existing master tape of the music to a soundtrack for a video or film. It is appropriate when the composer of the music owns the copyright in both the music and lyrics.

Music Licence for Games

This sample Music Licence for Games (often referred to as a synchronisation licence or master licence) is for use where a game developer wants to synchronise existing music and an existing master recording of the music to a soundtrack for a game. It is appropriate when the composer of the music owns the copyright in both the music (and lyrics) and the sound recording.

Music Licence for Podcast

An agreement for when a podcast producer wishes to use a particular piece of recorded music which is still protected by copyright in a podcast.

Music Studio Recording Agreement for Unsigned Artists

This sample agreement should be used when an unsigned artist is negotiating a booking with a recording studio. It can be used as a starting point for drafting an agreement or as a checklist to compare to the terms offered by the studio.

Occupancy Licence (Creative Hub)

This sample Occupancy Licence  is  modelled  on  the  successful  Renew  Newcastle  project in which an administrative body (such as a council or non-profit) connects artists, cultural projects and community groups with the owners of vacant buildings. It sets out the terms on which the Administering Body of the Creative Hub permits the artist or community project to occupy premises within the Creative Hub. It should be used in conjunction with the Participation Letter which is also available for FREE individual download below.

Occupancy Licence (Pop Up)

This sample Occupancy Licence (Pop-Up) sets out the terms on which a building owner directly agrees to allow an artist, cultural project or community group to occupy its empty premises for a short period.  Such arrangements nurture creative, artistic and cultural projects and bring life and energy to a local area. While the successful  Renew  Newcastle  project involved an administrative body (such as a council or non-profit) connecting artists, with the owners of vacant buildings, this agreement operates where there is no such overarching supervisory body.


One-off Performance Partnership Deed

This sample deed should be used when a group of performers (dancers) want to form a partnership for the purpose of putting on a one-off show/project/performance.

Option and Purchase Agreement

This sample agreement should be used when a filmmaker's wishes to secure the exclusive rights to develop a book, play or other existing into a film.

Performer’s Ongoing Partnership Deed

A deed for a group of performers who want to form a partnership for the purpose of putting on more than one show/project/performance on an ongoing basis.

Performer’s Release

This sample agreement should be used to ensure that the recipient of the release, for example a producer, is allowed to record and use the performance. It also covers the performer's copyright and moral rights.

Performer’s Release – Session Musician

This sample Session Musician’s Release (the Release) should be used when a musician is being hired by a third party to perform a musical work as part of a recorded music session.

Photographer’s Model Release

This release protects photographers against any claim from individuals when they use photographs including those individuals.

Sale of Artwork Agreement

This sample agreement governs the relationship between an artist and the purchaser of an artwork.

Sample Website Terms of Use

These sample Website Terms of Use are for use on websites either with a blog (i.e. a public "discussion board" that allows users to post their comments for others to read and comment on) or a more traditional website without a blog.

Sponsorship Agreement

This sample agreement should be used by artists or arts organisations when obtaining sponsorship for a particular event or activity, such as a festival, performance or exhibition.

Venue Hire Agreement

This sample agreement can be used for hiring a place/space for short period of time.

Video Production Agreement

This sample agreement should be used when a producer or production company is commissioned to produce a video program for purposes such as promotion, education or instruction.

Workshop Participation Deed

This sample WORKSHOP PARTICIPATION DEED should be used when a person takes part in a workshop in which they will create copyright material, for example by writing text, composing music, creating new dance movement or coming up with new lines for a play, and possibly performs the material created.

Writer and Commissioner Agreement

This sample agreement should be used when a writer is commissioned to write a short work, for example an essay in the catalogue of an exhibition.

Info Sheets
Agency agreements

Actors, musicians and bands often appoint agents or managers to act on their behalf. Visual artists often have a dealer who represents them. The manager or agent can enter into contracts that are binding on the person who appointed them (the principal). There are specific legal rules which apply to these agency relationships.

This information sheet explains what an agency is, how it is created, the authority granted to an agent, an agent's obligations, and the important terms of agency agreements. It also deals with any state legislation that applies to agents, managers and venue consultants in the entertainment industry. Bands and visual artists should also read the Music management checklist and Artist-gallery checklist.

Authors and Self-Publishing

With the rise of e-books and the popularity of self-publishing, there are now companies that offer self-publishing services such as editing, proofing, and design.If you're feeling like you want more information on the legal issues around this, this information sheet is for you.

Competition conditions

This information sheet considers some issues you should consider before entering creative competitions.

Computer Game Design and Development

Creating games raises a myriad of legal issues. Learn how to protect rights and when to use our sample agreements Game Development Services Agreement, Game Loan Agreement, Music Commission Agreement for Games and Music Licence for Games.

Computer Games - legal issues for creative designers

This information sheet addresses legal issues that can arise when creating computer games, including the copyright in the various elements that make up a computer game such as the artistic works and the computer programs that operate the game. The discussion of copyright covers the use of ‘authoring’ programs and the need for games developers to have appropriate contracts with employees, independent contractors or unpaid volunteers.

This information sheet also discusses copyright in ‘user generated content’ and how ownership of ‘user generated content’, ‘End User Licence Agreements’ (EULAs) and the ‘terms of use’ of a Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game (MMORG).

Arts Law has a suite of agreements suitable for games design and development here.

Contracts: A glossary of jargon

This information sheet contains a list of some of the more common legal terms that you might come across in negotiations as well as words and expressions that may appear in an agreement. 

Contracts: An Introduction

Contracts can be confusing to get your head around. This information sheet is an introduction to contract basics. 

Contracts: Getting it right

This information sheet explains the requirements for a legally binding contract and discusses some contractual pitfalls, when terms are implied in contracts and the rectification of omissions of terms.

Creative enterprise hubs in NSW: Employment issues

Creative Enterprise Hubs are a way forcouncils, communities and local businesses to nurture creative, artistic and cultural projects and enterprises by giving them short term access to unused or abandoned spaces. This brings life and energy back to the area with resulting benefits to local business and residents. Both the body administering the Hub and the arts practices participating in the Hub are likely to work with employees, contractors or volunteers. This information sheet explains the obligations of businesses involved in Creative Enterprise Hubs to their employees, contractors and volunteers.

This information sheet is part of a suite of documents for Creative Enterprise Hubs.

Creative Enterprise Hubs in NSW: Overview

Creative Enterprise Hubs transform empty spaces into arts precincts by facilitating short term access for creative, artistic and cultural projects to unused or abandoned spaces.  Hubs operate in temporarily vacant and low cost or free premises, providing artists and arts groups with creative space and bringing life and energy back to the area with resulting benefits to local business and residents. Arts Law’s suite of documents is part of Arts NSW’s Creative Hub Toolkit designed as a blueprint for councils, local communities and local businesses interested in urban renewal. This information sheet provides an overview of the legal agreements used to set up a Creative Hub and issues participants should consider.

Design Checklist

This checklist is designed to help you, the maker, have better and more complete contracts with the people or businesses who commission you, and is a starting point for dealing with some of the key issues to be aware of when being commissioned to make pieces/works/designs for a client or customer.  

Direct Licensing Guidelines

This information sheet is for small Australian record companies and independent artists that have an input agreement with the Phonographic Performance Company of Australia (PPCA). All record companies and independent artists that are PPCA licensors must have direct licensing guidelines that outline the circumstances in which they may directly licence public performance and transmission rights for their sound recordings. This information sheet includes sample Direct Licensing Guidelines. All PPCA licensors are entitled to free legal advice from Arts Law about their guidelines and input agreements. For advice, lodge a query here.

Disclaimers, exclusion clauses and risk warnings

This information explains the difference between a disclaimer and an exclusion clause in a contract and the circumstances when a risk warning should be used. It explains when you should use them, what they mean and the effectiveness of such clauses or statements in limit liability for injury, loss or damage. This information sheet should be read in conjunction with our insurance and liability information sheet.

Film competitions

Entering a film competition creates a binding contract between the film maker and the competition organiser and it is important to understand the competition’s terms and conditions. 

Film Financing

A number of funding options exist for film makers, including the “Producer Offset”/ “Producer Rebate” scheme, and private avenues such as crowd funding. Each of these funding options is explored in more detail in this information sheet. Arts Law has a sample Film Loan Agreement and a Games Loan Agreement which may be relevant.

Film Location Releases

If you are filming on private property or in a public space (such as a park or council land), you may need a film location release. This information sheet when and why a film location release is important. Information is also provided on which parties should be contacted to obtain film location releases. Arts Law has two sample film location deeds of release (with payment and without payment).

Music Copyright and Publishing for Bands and Recording Artists

Composers, lyricists, independent recording artists and bands that own the copyright in their music can derive income through the licensing and performance of their compositions and sound recordings. This information sheet explains music copyright and royalties, the role of collecting societies such as APRA/AMCOS and PPCA, and music publishing. Sample agreements that may be relevant include Music Recording agreements guide, Music Studio Recording Agreement for Unsigned Artists and Session Musician’s release

Public Art - Design and Commissioning

Public art commissions create exciting opportunities for artists, allow Australians to enjoy aesthetically beautiful environments, and stimulate community engagement with the arts. Learn how to get the most benefit to yourself as an artist, your council and your community.

Website development

This information sheet covers the most important issues that a person should consider and possibly address in a contract when engaging a website developer to create a website.

Writers and authors: useful resources

This information sheet lists resources, including sample agreements, which authors, writers and illustrators may find useful. It includes a brief description of the different resources available from other useful organisations.

(RE)Introducing Creative Commons

So you're a creator of music/graphic designs/films and you want to get your body of work 'out there'. You've heard about this licensing system called the Creative Commons that doesn't involve you seeing — or, more importantly, paying — a lawyer. What do you need to know before committing to using a Creative Commons licence?

360 Degree Record Deals

In the face of declining record sales, record companies are presenting some artists with 360 degree deals, enabling the record company to share in revenue traditionally only collected by artists. This article looks at the arguments for and against these deals and what artists should consider before signing them.

A Cancelled Commission Case Study

Rod Nash was shocked when a Sydney council told him to stop work on the sculpture they had commissioned him to make for a public library. He was suddenly lumbered with the rather large, unfinished, site-specific sculpture for which he had not yet been paid.

A fraction too much friction

In light of a recent, well publicised literary scandal Katherine Giles discusses important considerations for authors when entering into publishing agreements.

Arts Law’s Black Fashion Project

Arts Law has developed a suite of legal documents associated with ethical collaborative agreements between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists and designers who wish to work and create together. Together, these agreements form part of Arts Law’s Black Fashion project and have been supported by funding from Arts Queensland.

Author Beware!

Earlier this year Arts Law was contacted by a number of authors who wanted advice about their rights to royalties for sales of their books. Problems arose when the authors received letters from a new Australian publishing company, explaining that the first publishing house's business had been sold to the new company but without any obligation for the new company to continue paying royalties to the authors for sales of their books.

Better Ask a Lawyer: q&a with Michael Easton

Michael’s a lawyer with over 17 years experience in media, entertainment, commercial and intellectual property law. He previously worked for the ABC and now runs his own specialist practice. 

Caveat: Visual Artists and Agents: When is a commission payable?

The question of when a gallery is entitled to claim commission on artist sales is a frequent cause of confusion and contention. It is an issue that can, and should be, clarified at the outset of the artist-gallery relationship so that both the artist and the gallery are clear about when the gallery is entitled to a share of income from sales.

Caveat: Visual Artists and Warranties and Indemnities

A number of visual artists have recently approached Arts Law with concerns about art commission agreements they were asked to sign. Their agreements contained a term asking them to warrant that their work did not infringe anyone's rights and to indemnify the commissioner against any claims arising out of their work.

Changes for PPCA licensors

Serena Armstrong explains some changes to PPCA agreements and sets out the new Arts Law resources available to help people understand and comply with the changes.

Common conundrums

Arts Law deals with a diverse range of legal concerns across all art sectors.  Below are some frequently asked questions over the last year, answered by some of our volunteer lawyers who provided an incredible amount of support and help to Arts Law during 2005. 

Deferred Payments

Deferred payments allow low-budget filmmakers to produce films when they don't have the resources to pay the cast and crew upfront. The producer and the cast and crew agree that the cast and crew will be paid only if, and when, the film is commercially exploited and a revenue stream is created.

Digital rights – American labels step up actions against online music companies

In the last year, a number of American-based online music businesses have taken advantage of new software, offering consumers faster access to streamed and downloaded music online. Two actions for copyright infringement have been brought against, the most significant by RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) in relation to their new account service which offers members two new means of music delivery.

Do the rights thing

Before you embark on producing your short or low budget feature, you should be aware that there are a few legal hoops you need to jump through in order to create and exhibit it. This article looks at the issue of obtaining rights and releases.

Funding a Film through Product Placement

Characters in films eat, drink and wear clothes (sometimes). If they are eating, drinking and wearing branded or recognisable products you may be able to negotiate a product placement deal with the brand to subsidise the cost of producing your film

Getting Mobile with Distribution

Simone Brandon outlines new laws that affect mobile phone content and the opportunities for artists to distribute their work via mobile phones.

Indigenous Artist and Arts Centre Agreement

Arts Law’s sample Indigenous Artist and Art Centre Agreement is a great resource for Indigenous artists creating artworks at Indigenous art centres. In this article, Serena Armstrong looks at who might use the agreement and how to use it.

Keeping The Fun In Funding

Local, State and Federal Government in Australia provide grants to artists, organisations and spaces such as galleries to acknowledge artistic expression as an important freedom of individuals and to support and develop artists and creative industries. This article will discuss how a Funded Organisation can take some simple steps to maximise the exposure of their work whilst minimising the risk of losing funding or having their work censored.

Legal resources for writers and online publishing tips

Whether you are trying to get your novel published or adding content to your own website, there are a number of guides which will help you understand the law as it relates to publishing, contracts, defamation and intellectual property.

Liability for Damage to Consigned Artworks

Arts Law is often contacted by artists whose works have been lost or damaged while being exhibited by a gallery, and who have been told by the gallery that it is not responsible. What rights does the artist have against the gallery in this situation?

Love (not) thy neighbour

The recent NSW Supreme Court case of Biscayne Partners Pty Ltd v Valance Corp Pty Ltd & Ors attracted much media attention, due in no small part to the identity of its main protagonists, former "Neighbours" stars Scott Michaelson and Holly Valance.

Low Budget Films – contracts with cast and crew

Making films with a very low budget or no budget at all is a challenge which faces lots of Arts Law's clients. Films are made with borrowed cameras, friends step in as actors and technicians, the script is a one page plot line that evolves as filming progresses, and often the only perk is a round of drinks at the local pub when it's finally in the can. No one expects to make any money but everyone dreams that maybe this film might go somewhere. Sound familiar?

Make the most of your gig

Arts Law's Live music performance: Booking gigs guide assists musicians with making the most of their live performances. Isobel Ferrier examines some of the issues musicians should consider when doing gigs.

Money Matters: Selling and Licensing Part One

Alison Patchett provides an overview of two of the most common agreements that visual artists should use in managing their arts business.  This part addresses preliminary issues and a sale of artwork agreement.  Part two (to appear in the September edition of Art + Law) will consider they key common issues in an image reproduction licence

Money Matters: Selling and Licensing Part Two

Alison Patchett provides an overview of two of the most common agreements that visual artists should use in managing their arts business in a two part article. Part One addressed some preliminary contractual issues and outlined the core terms in a sale of artwork agreement. This part considers the content of animage reproduction licence.

Music sampling

Sampling is now an established musical practice, although it still generates strong legal debate. The purpose of this article is to provide practical advice for musicians considering incorporating samples into their work.

Nothing Like Australia Competition: just unAustralian

Recently Tourism Australia ran a competition called 'Nothing like Australia' which attracted 29,031 photo entries. While the competition itself may have seemed innocuous it was the face of a set of very onerous terms and conditions.

Pitching Your Idea

If you have come up with an amazing idea for a film, television production, book or play and are keen to pitch it to potential publishers, producers or funders, take a moment to think about the best way to do it. It is important to protect your rights, while also maximising your chances of success.

PPCA takes Radio Cap to the High Court

On Tuesday 10 May, the High Court of Australia heard an appeal from the Phonographic Performance Company of Australia Ltd (PPCA) against the current 1% cap on royalties payable by radio for the use of sound recordings. The PPCA hopes to remove the statutory cap that has had Australian artists subsidising the provision of content to the highly profitable commercial radio sector for over forty years.

Public Art Guidelines for Artists and Commissioners

Arts Law is frequently contacted by artists with concerns about public art commissions they are involved in. The following guidelines may help creators and commissioners of public artworks avoid conflict and misunderstanding both during the commissioning process and for the life of the work.

Public Artworks

This article briefly discusses particular areas that often generate problems for artists as well as suggesting other sources of useful information.

Putting Your Indie Short Film on the Internet

Putting your film online can give you worldwide exposure. If all goes well you might get picked up for a distribution or development deal. But what should you look out for when you submit?

Q&As for filmmakers

The Arts Law Centre of Australia (Arts Law) regularly advises filmmakers on a wide range of legal issues affecting their arts practice, such as copyright, trade marks, or telling real stories. This is the first instalment of questions and answers that Arts Law lawyers deal with most often, either as part of the telephone legal advice or document review service they provide, or in the context of education seminars they deliver.

Sculptures in public - protecting your work

Australian law has traditionally been fairly unhelpful when it comes to protecting sculptures. Until recently artists have had very little power to prevent their work from being subjected to ill treatment once sold. Sculptors who display their works permanently in public have also been powerless to stop others from commercialising their work.  Fortunately, there have been some positive steps of late to address these long-standing problems.

The Death of Shock and its Impact on Australian Artists

In June 2010 Shock Music Publishing ('Shock'), the publishing arm of Australia's largest independent entertainment company, announced that it had gone into liquidation and appointed administrators to be responsible for the affairs of the company.

The Devil in the detail

Competitions provide a necessary forum for artists, especially those embarking on their artistic careers, to advertise and promote their particular talent to a wider audience and to seek and possibly secure future commissioning for their work. For all manner of artists, creating works for and entering competitions at one stage or another in their career is so prevalent as to be considered a rite of passage! Regardless of whether you are entering your first competition or your hundredth, the devil is likely to be found in the competition detail.


Arts Law is sometimes contacted for advice about the copyright issues involved in making and commissioning foreign language translations of literary works.

When you lay your money down: buying artworks on lay-by or deposit

Two common means of selling artworks are through deposit and lay-by arrangements.  Though this may be advantageous in terms of sales, problems often arise when the purchaser does not finish or is slow paying and there is no clear agreement dealing with what happens in this situation.

You talkin’ ‘bout me? Basing stories on people’s lives

Arts Law regularly receives queries relating to people wanting either to write about a member of their family or community, or depict a person they know or don’t know in a film. The issue that arises is, how does the law regulate one person publishing a story about another person?

Case Studies
Andrée Greenwell: negotiating production contracts

Andrée Greenwell is a highly-regarded composer, performance maker and music educator and is artistic director of Green Room Music. Andrée approached Arts Law with a query about a production for which she was music producer, composer and artistic director.

Artists of Ampilatwatja: Dealing with an overseas gallery

In 2012 Artists of Ampilatwatja Corporation contacted Artists in the Black about a dispute with an overseas gallery relating to a contract for the consignment and sale of artworks. Artists in the Black was able to persuade international law firm DLA Piper to provide the services of a lawyer based in the United Kingdom on a pro bono basis. Solicitor Luke Holmes negotiated a successful resolution of the dispute.

Bede Tungutalum and “Owl Man”

Senior Tiwi artist Bede Tungutalum is a painter, carver and printmaker and one of the founders of Tiwi Designs the well known Indigenous screen printing business based on Bathurst Island. In 2004, he approached Artists in the Black after seeing prints of his limited edition linocut work "Owl Man" for sale on the internet and through galleries in Australia.

Book publishing contracts – understanding what you are signing

We referred Michael to one of our external pro bono lawyers with book publishing expertise. The free advice session provided to Michael as part of his Arts Law subscription was so helpful that Michael decided to engage that lawyer on a private basis to negotiate with the publisher on several changes to the contract.

Christine Tschuna - What to do if you don’t get paid – letters of demand

Christine Tschuna is an Wirangu artist with the Ceduna Arts and Cultural Centre. In June 2006 she signed a Licence Reproduction Agreement with a company with produces postcards and tourist memorabilia. After the company stopped returning her calls or emails Christine turned to Artists in the Black for assistance. Arts Law pro bono lawyer Robert Lempens of Camatta Lempens in Adelaide offered to help Christine.

Commissioned photographs and copyright ownership

Arts Law advised a professional photographer. The photographer had been commissioned to take commercial photos for a client, a bridal dress retail business. Models and hair and makeup artists were hired. Ordinarily, the photographer provides agreements for his photography services to his clients and has all models sign release forms, however given that he had a good working relationship with his client, they just had a more informal oral agreement in place.

Deborah Mills: Sharing a gallery space with other artists

Deborah Mills contacted Arts Law to determine what kind of agreement would be suitable to have in place with external artists for short-term exhibitions. We advised her on this issue and helped her prepare an effective agreement.

Donny Woolagoodja

Worora man Donny Woolagoodja is a renowned artist whose giant Wandjina artwork featured at the opening ceremony of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. He asked Artists in the Black to help him prepare a document which would protect him from being held responsible if participants on his tours were injured and which would also enable him to restrict participants from photographing and publishing images of culturally sensitive sites.

Ilbijerri Theatre Company – copyright ownership and contract

Ilbijerri Theatre Company in Victoria is the longest running Indigenous theatre company in Australia creating innovative contemporary works by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists. Ilbijerri asked Artists in the Black to help clarify these issues in a way which recognized and protected the contributions of the workshop participants but also made sure that Ilbijerri had all of the rights it needed to stage a successful production for the public.

Jack Barrington’s wartime exploits published under licence. When is a release not a release?

Second World War veteran Jack Barrington approached Arts Law in August 2010. Jack was an air gunner flying Lancaster bombers from England with 460 Squadron RAAF. The Sydney Region Aircrew Group wanted to publish a book called ‘The Spirit of Aircrew’ that would feature stories of aircrew who participated in the War. They are a voluntary organization determined to ensure that the contributions made by their members are not forgotten.

Jilalga Murray-Ranui: Protecting your rights in a public work commission project

Jilalga Murray-Ranui is an Indigenous visual artist who is passionate about producing digital images, paintings, and smaller works of art inspired by the Pilbara landscape, people, animals and lifestyle

In July 2010, Jilalga was approached by Mungabareena Aboriginal Corporation (MAC) to create a large mural on a bridge.  The MAC and the Victorian Department of Transport had entered into an agreement in relation to the creation of a public art work and Jilalga had been retained by MAC to do this work. She was not a party to the agreement between MAC and the Victorian Department of Transport so she was concerned about how that agreement might affect her copyright and her moral rights. 

As an Indigenous artist, Jilalga receives a free subscription to Arts Law which she used to access Arts Law’s Document Review Service. Arts Law arranged for lawyers Jarod Benson and Jessica Karasinski of Minter Ellison to help Jilalga to understand the agreement.

 Jilalga says:

“For me the size of the contract and the wording was very daunting. Arts Law helped me understand it. And they helped me renegotiate parts where I felt uneasy or concerned. Another concern I had was distance between all parties. I lived in Perth, the Victorian Transport department was in Melbourne, Mungabareena was in Wodonga, and then Arts Law was in Sydney. I was worried for a little while about the distance - I felt like I was just one lone artist on the other side of Australia.  But it was reassuring that Arts Law made contact with some Perth lawyers to assist me. I felt good that I had local people on board to help me and that gave me a bit more confidence.”

Jilalga asked the Department of Transport and MAC to consider the amendments suggested by Jarod and Jessica. Those amendments were accepted and the contract was changed in a way that gave much greater protection to Jilalga.

The mural project was unveiled in February 2011. Jilalga reflects on the process:

“Arts Law gives you the confidence to have your say by talking with you, then talking to the other party and negotiating on your behalf if and when you need it. By working with Arts Law, I felt reassured that my rights were worthy, and that my rights deserved to be heard and respected.

I enjoyed the process, all people involved worked positively together. I was so happy about the work I produced for the community, especially the Koorie community. The project was a success for the community, for the organisations involved, and for myself as a practising artist.”

This story demonstrates that it is important for artists to be aware of their rights and to be vigilant with agreements dealing with copyright of an artist, especially when the artist is not a party to the agreement. Artists should consider their moral rights (such as making sure they are named as the artist of the work) and should not be afraid to negotiate to protect their rights.


Further resources you might find useful:

-  Arts Law’s information sheets: Contracts: an introduction

-  Arts Law’s sample agreements: Public art: design and commission agreement

Joseph McNeill: Licensing Music

Joseph McNeill, also known as “Saucypeanuts”, is a Byron Bay based performer and composer. Joseph decided to upload his song ‘Convoluted Aether’ to Triple J Unearthed and subsequently received interest from a party wanting to licence the song. Joseph contacted Arts Law in May 2014 seeking advice about copyright licensing. Arts Law explained that if Joseph wanted advice on the particular terms of a copyright licence he wanted to enter into then he would need to use Arts Law’s Document Review Service. Otherwise Arts Law could give him high level advice about the general issues that arise when licensing music. Joseph decided to receive high level advice from Arts Law first.

Lawrence Omeenyo licenses his image for Arts Law’s Christmas card

Artist Lawrence Omeenyo is a painter, sculptor and elder of the Lockhart River Community. He works through the Lockhart River Arts Centre. After Arts Law had worked with the Lockhart River Art Centre drafting wills for their artists, Arts Law decided to approach the art centre to see if it was possible to license one of the artist's images for Arts Law's 2010 Christmas card.

Mirvac: Licensing for Sydney CBD installation

In 2013, Artists in the Black was contacted by an Indigenous writer seeking assistance with a contract he had received from Mirvac for the use of his published works in Mirvac’s new development at 8 Chifley Square in Sydney.

Negotiating a licensing agreement

What happens when you negotiate a deal with a company and then the person you spoke to leaves and their successor tries to back out or change the terms? Can you still hold the company to the agreement?

Ninuku Arts - Selling works on consignment: chasing payment and negotiating a settlement

Ninuku Arts entered into a consignment agreement with an Adelaide gallery for the sale of 29 artworks by 19 of its artists. Ninuku Arts made many requests for payment for the 6 outstanding paintings, but no response was received. Artists in the Black turned to its long time supporters DLA Phillips Fox in Adelaide (now Fox Tucker Lawyers) for pro bono assistance.

P.D. Casely-Hayford: Getting your public commission contract right

P.D. Casely-Hayford is an experimental filmmaker, visual sound and performance artist. One of her most recent experimental films Confidential Despatch was officially selected for the 2014 International Black Women's Film Festival in San Francisco, U.S.A. She is currently completing a PhD that focuses on experimental film, moving image, visual culture and legacy at Queensland University of Technology's Creative Industries Faculty. 

Rod Nash - A cancelled commission case study

Rod Nash was shocked when a Sydney council told him to stop work on his sculpture “Seed” which they had commissioned him to make for a public library. Rod contacted Arts Law to find out his rights.

Switchflick Productions: getting permission to use archival images & footage in a documentary

Switchflick Productions is the brainchild of Sophia Himi and Vivian Wong (pictured above; reproduced with permission), co-directors who produced a documentary about a renowned Former First Lady in Southeast Asia.

The duo contacted Arts Law in relation to issues they were having with securing archival images and footage from the former First Lady’s public life, held in an international Archive. Sophia and Vivian were concerned that amendments to their own standard copyright clearance form required by the Archive would result in their film being published or reproduced without their permission. They were also concerned about unspecified copying costs required by the Archive.

The Brow Horn Orchestra: On the road to success

The Brow Horn Orchestra ( is a six piece afro-electro funk band based in Perth, Western Australia. The band has garnered a cult following since winning Best Funk Act at the 2010 Western Australian Music Industry Awards and Best Live Act  at the Perth Dance Music Awards. In light of the band’s growing profile, founding members Nic Owen and Karri Harper-Meredith (who started out ‘The Brow’ as a street performing duo back in 2007) sat down with Arts Law Senior Solicitor Delwyn Everard at the 2011 WAMi Festival to get some general legal advice around band management.

The Dion Beasley Trust

Dion Beasley is a talented young Aboriginal artist working in Tennant Creek, Northern Territory. Dion is profoundly deaf and suffers from muscular dystrophy. He has only a very limited ability to communicate. When Dion was 14, Barkly Regional Arts contacted Arts Law requesting help to establish a business structure to protect the income received for Dion.

Tjanpi Desert Weavers and works on consignment

The Tjanpi Desert Weavers are Ngaanyatjarra, Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara women from eighteen desert communities who make baskets, sculptures, beads and beanies. In 2007, Tjanpi contacted Artists in the Black with a query about certificates of authenticity and the use by a gallery of images and biographical details about their weavers.

Urban Smart Projects: Best Practice in Public Artwork Projects

Urban Smart Projects (USP) is a street art initiative that engages local artists and residents to turn cities into brighter places by painting original artwork onto traffic signal boxes around Australia. USP approaches local councils to commission the project in their local area. Once commissioned, USP places a call out to the local community and artists who are interested in contributing submit an original design to USP for approval.  The artists are asked to sign a contract with USP which explains the obligations of both of the parties, including the copyright licensing arrangements. Once the contract is signed, USP provides the artist with the equipment to create their original artwork on a particular signal box in their local area. 

News & Events
AITB on the Road: Alice Springs Trip
23rd June 2015

In April 2015, Arts Law’s Deputy Director, Delwyn Everard, and I travelled to Central Australia to engage with local independent Indigenous artists in the Alice Springs area. 

Artists in the Black visits the Mid North Coast
16th June 2015

Arts Law, in collaboration with Saltwater Freshwater Arts Alliance is offering FREE legal advice workshops to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Artists on the mid north coast this June.

Arts Law and Kino!
31st March 2016

We presented a short seminar in March for filmmakers at Kino Sydney's #104 Open Screen Film Night - it was a hoot!

Arts Law Artists Professional Development Seminar in Alice Springs
10th April 2013

Arts Law will be hosting a general artists’ rights seminar in Alice Springs.

This seminar will deal with issues such as copyright, moral rights,
licensing and contracts, putting work online, the new PPSA legislation,
prizes and competitions!

DATE: Friday 17 May 2013

TIME: 9.30am-12pm

WHERE: 27 Hartley Street, Alice Springs, NT.

Arts Law Artists Professional Development Seminar in Brisbane
18th October 2012

Wednesday 24 October Forum – Arts Law Centre Australia

Join us at JWCoCA Fortitude Valley to hear about the latest information on copyright laws and other arts law issues.

  • Copyright –issues in digital environment
  • Resale royalties –how does it work?
  • Personal Property Securities Act – what do you need to do?
  • Prizes and competitions – the good and the bad
Arts Law Artists Professional Development Seminar in Darwin
10th April 2013

Arts Law will be hosting a general artists’ rights seminar in Darwin.

This seminar will deal with issues such as copyright, moral rights,
licensing and contracts, putting work online, the new PPSA legislation,
prizes and competitions!

DATE: Monday 20 May 2013

TIME: 9am-11.30am

WHERE: Arts NT conference room, AXA Building, Level One, 9-11 Cavenagh Street, Darwin NT.

Arts Law launches new band partnership agreement
26th September 2012

Together with Allens Linklaters, Arts Law has developed a new short form band agreement. This template is an alternative to the longer more detailed band partnership agreement and can be used when bands want a basic straightforward record of how they want to work together, who owns the music they make and how they will share expenses and income.

Film and Law Seminar - WA
1st August 2011

Arts Law will be presenting a Film and the Law seminar at the Film and Television Institute of Western Australia. Wednesday 17 August 2011 - FREE.

Law of the Written Word
19th April 2012

Join Arts Law Centre of Australia Executive Director, Robyn Ayres, and guest practitioners Barrister James Samargis and Dr Mark Williams as they discuss a broad range of topical Arts Law issues affecting writers.

My Rode Cast 2019 Competition Review
28th February 2019

Arts Law has reviewed the terms and conditions of My RØDE Cast 2019, a competition being run out of New South Wales.

The deadline for this competition is 12 March 2019. It is an international competition (with the exception of certain listed countries).  

This is an inaugural competition for podcasters, where each entrant creates and submits an original 1–2 minute podcast for judging. The podcasts may be on any subject, in any creative format.

This competition is free to enter and offers several impressive prizes and an opportunity for exposure.

Arts Law has rated this competition 4 out of 5 stars.

New legal resources for game developers
28th May 2014

Arts Law have recently developed a suite of legal resources specifically for game developers. All the legal issues are covered from conception through to development, production and distribution.  There are also sample agreements available including a loan agreement and music licence. 

Public Art Commissions
5th May 2015

FREE webinar. Have you been commissioned by a council, government authority or property developer to create a public artwork? Or do you work for a public authority or developer wanting to commission an artwork? Did your eyes glaze over at the 20 page contract? Do you understand the insurance issues? Was the artwork successfully completed and installed? This session covers some of the basic legal issues which arise in public artwork commissions including common terms and conditions, and likely problems.

Public Art Commissions (webinar repeat)
5th May 2015

FREE webinar. Have you been commissioned by a council, government authority or property developer to create a public artwork? Or do you work for a public authority or developer wanting to commission an artwork? Did your eyes glaze over at the 20 page contract? Do you understand the insurance issues? Was the artwork successfully completed and installed? This session covers some of the basic legal issues which arise in public artwork commissions including common terms and conditions, and likely problems.

6th May 2011

The Arts Law Centre, in partnership with the Media Resource Centre, is pleased to present a seminar on the legal issues affecting screen creators - 9 June Adelaide

System Upgrade
5th April 2012

Dear Arts Law Supporters,

We are currently doing a system upgrade. As a result, over the next couple of weeks our ability to answer your query as quickly as usual will be affected. We endeavour to get back to our usual response time as soon as we can. Your patience during this period will be greatly appreciated.

Torres Strait Workshops for Artists
9th July 2013

Two days of workshops and talks where artists can discuss and learn more about the legal issues surrounding their artforms with Arts Law's Delwyn Everard and Donna Carstens

Dates: 23rd of July 9am - 3pm & 24th of July 10.30am - 12pm

Venue: Torres Strait Regional Authority, Torres Haus, 46 Victoria Parade

Artist-gallery checklist

This checklist covers many of the issues which need to be considered and decided on by artists and galleries when negotiating their exhibition arrangements.

Music management checklist

This checklist outlines issues which musicians and bands need to consider before entering into a management agreement. It is recommended for use in negotiations, before artist and manager sign a written agreement.

Music publishing checklist

This checklist outlines the basic concepts of music publishing agreements. Music publishing is one of the most complex areas of the music industry. Music publishers are an integral part of the contemporary music industry as they act as an interface between songwriters or composers and the rest of the music industry.

Organising a festival checklist

This checklist provides an overview of some of the most important issues you will need to consider when organising a festival. It can be used as the basis for putting together a business plan or your own checklist to be used when putting together the festival.

Short film competitions: Producer’s guide

This checklist outlines the main legal issues a short filmmaker or produce should consider when making their short film. It is recommended for use short filmmakers who are entering their films into a short film competition.

Music recording agreements guide

This guide outlines the basic concepts of a recording agreement. It explains the different types of recording contracts and briefly states the formalities of forming and negotiating a deal with a record company. The checklist also has a glossary of common terms which will help you understand what is being offered in a recording deal.

Short film competitions: Producer’s guide

This checklist outlines the main legal issues a short filmmaker or produce should consider when making their short film. It is recommended for use short filmmakers who are entering their films into a short film competition.

Sponsorship agreements guide

Corporate sponsorship is assuming an increasingly important role in the arts. This guide outlines the different forms of sponsorship that an artist or arts organisation may need to seek from a commercial organisation and what should be included in a sponsorship agreement.

Earning a Living in the Visual Arts and Crafts (3rd edition)

This must read for everyone involved in the visual arts and crafts includes new chapters on sponsorship, working from home, hobbyist vs professional and the role of design in serial production, while information on income tax, copyright, finance, marketing, selling, pricing and costing have been updated and expanded.